Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A HOH Wedding

Wedding season is on! And a few of my fellow Hard of Hearing (HOH) friends are getting hitched. 

They've also been asking me what kind of accessible services I had at our wedding, in 2011. This is a great question, as it could mean missing out on important things - in particular the wedding vows! Now who would want to mess up on that anyway?

Communication Access Realtime Translation, or CART for short, is our preferred method of verbal translation. CART can produce over 200 words per minute, and is to date, the fastest translation system we Canadians can access. In essence, the Captionist operating a stenograph machine translates what's being said in verbatim - similar to what you would find in court reporting.

We had two venues for our special day - the first part being at the church, and the reception at a golf club.  For the ceremony, we didn't have CART for a couple of reasons: 1) all our vows were written down so we knew exactly what was being said by the priest and each other, which is the only thing that matters; 2) we wanted to preserve the ceremonial part for ourselves. Our guests all had booklets that guided them through all the readings and songs so no one was really left out.
Bird's eye view of our ceremony
For the reception, we had CART set up partly because we knew that following dialogue would be harder to follow, compared to the ceremony. Speeches are often the most boring part for hard of hearing people at any wedding (IE. we don't get the punch line in time), and naturally, we didn't want to miss out on our speeches! Below is a result of that decision:

A permanent memory captured by my aunt!
I even learned that my bridesmaids mentioned me farting against the wall to all 208 attendees (way to go to embarrass me... hahaha), and their reflections made me well up in tears, laughter and grins. We truly appreciated being able to understand and be a part of everything at our wedding. 

Our guests even gave us unexpected feedback. Most of them know that we have a hearing loss, but this was the first time they had ever seen CART live. Some told me that "wow, I had no idea you guys needed this", to "this was the coolest thing I've ever seen at a wedding". Even our table of hard of hearing friends really appreciated having that access to communication. It was such a great educational opportunity, and an eye opener for some!

For the HOH friends getting married in the next year or so, below is a layout of our reception to give you some inspiration. We placed the projector screen and table next to the podium, the most obvious spot as all the outlets were there. The facility that we had provided all the tech we needed. From the head table, we could see the projector screen pretty well - all we'd be doing is looking at the speaker at the podium, and watch the captioning behind. Our HOH friends even had a special table designated for them (can you find it???); that table had the best vantage point of view for both the projector screen and head table. The Captionist sat by the HOH table, close enough to reach the projector table in case of technical difficulties.

Our layout

For those asking, where can you find a Captionist that would do this? How much does it cost? Well that question will have to be a "that depends" answer. Curtis had a great Captionist friend who was willing to do this service as part of her wedding gift to us... a huge gift indeed! Captionists in British Columbia run up to $100 an hour! Captioning ran all the way until speeches ended, and from there on, we just grooved away to live music, and the usual wedding suspects.

I spy the Captioning projector, do you?

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